The last month has been interesting for kiting! The weather continues to worsen and I find myself having to be much better prepared to go fly. Compared to last fall as a non-kiter I’m now much more sensitive to weather! I didn’t realize how gusty the winds get once summer ends. The erratic rain is less of a problem (at least for the kite), but it isn’t super satisfying to come home soaking wet J. Worth it though, and nothing a raincoat can’t solve. I’ve also moved from walking to the point into a driving routine, and my car’s trunk is colonized by kites and lines.
On to flying I’ve been focused on a couple key things each time I hit the field.
· Stalls- Getting the hang of these, except for stalls while traveling upwards. I’m not 100% with stalls yet, especially on low wind bridle settings and in winds over 10mph but I’m feeling good.
o I’m good with initiating slides at the edge of the window but less good the closer to the middle I get. I have come close to starting slides from an axle but it still feels pretty random.
o I’m pretty solid at holding a slide, but not at ‘pulling’ the kite past the middle of the window to keep sliding. I have pretty much no practice sliding from the center to the edge of the window.
· Axles- I’m trying to develop a solid feel for the range of inputs that all result in an axle.
It seems like you don't have to be totally stalled to do an axle, but you do have to be able to give the kite lots of slack after tugging. Being stalled lets you really push back the wing which I think sets the kite up better but I'm nott toally sure yet
I think the 'sharpness' of the pull makes much more of a difference than the intensity. I can axle with one finger no problem this way. On the other side, a longer pull almost always ends in a wingtip snag/wrap. Even when the tip doesn't wrap, long pulls rarely get the kite to rotate all the way around.
I think the intensity of the axle input determines how quickly the kite rotates, and how far the kite falls (or rises) during the axle. I’ve noticed that in low wind you can actually lift the kite with an aggressive enough axle. I’ve been saved from the lack of ground-level wind a number of times with a nice fast axle!
· Fractured axle-to-fades- I know what I’m supposed to do, and I know thee ‘lock in’ feeling of a well-executed FA. Flatter axles would help, as would better timing for the pull (my videos show me this is my biggest problem). I’m also still learning how much slack is ‘just right’ so the nose doesn’t over-flip.
· Cartwheels- I think I’m good with these now, though they aren’t pretty yet. At least I’m doing the walk of contemplation less.
· Fade launches- It might be that I’m always practicing in pretty low wind but I'm finding fade launches tricky. It seems like as long as I pull out of the fade the instant i enter it that I can fly off most of the time. I'm pretty bad at maintaining the fade near the ground still though.
· Half axles- phew, what a challenge still. I still don’t really get how they should feel. I can pull the top wing down into a ‘flare’ like position (but with the nose pointed to the edge of the window). I can even sometimes then pull to rotate the nose around the other way, and even fly the kite out of it sometimes. But it doesn’t feel or look anything like a half axle. I met a flyer at the point who is great with slack line tricks!! I watched him for awhile and felt like just doing that taught me lots. I think my problem is that I'm not 'snappy' enough with the input, just tlike with the axle. I tend to try and pull the kite right into a flare which I think means I'm pulling for too long. I feel like I was getting closer in this last session (with my I2K) until I broke a lower leading edge... I think it must have been broken when I got the kite as it was a soft crash (landed on both wingtips but with some sideways momentum) that popped it. New parts are waiting across the border for me and I can pick them up today in Blaine
· Air recoveries- Exult’s blog talks a lot about “provoking the kite”, and how it gives one a chance to feel how the kite responds to inputs from a variety of positions. I’ve noticed that when the kite starts to tumble, 9/10 times it can be fixed by walking backwards a few meters! If that doesn’t work I try tugging one line then repeating the backwards walking. I have no idea how to save the kite when the line snags on a tip, but at least I can guide the kite gently to the ground when it happens.
Between the ground recoveries, air recoveries, and axles I’m in the air and actively practicing 5X more than when I first started leaning the axle. I’ve really noticed this in the videos! Previously I might get 10min of good footage per hour of flying. Now almost the entire hour is usable. Reviewing this footage has been so instrumental in improving my skills so it is nice to increase its information density! I’m also spending more and more time in a stall/slide and less with the sail ‘powered up’.
I'm slowly improving with flip tricks too! I can finally turtle, both while flying upward and a 'snap turtle' while flying horizontally. I'm still not great at maintaining a turtle.
I went out a few times to try night kiting! My BF brought home a couple packs of LED fingers from the dollar store which worked really well! They are a bit over 6g each so they don’t add too much to the weight of the kite. That said, with one clipped to the spine and one on each wingtip the kite controls pretty differently! I did my first (cruddy) multi axles within minutes of being airborne and weighted. I’m now playing with keeping one clipped to the spine in medium and stronger winds. I also want to play with nose vs spine weights!
Finally, I'm playing around a bit with the way I film and edit my flying videos. If I put a camera close to me as well as one behind the kite I can make some 'overlays' that better show off my hand movements. I don't think I'll do this every time but I learn a lot about what I'm doing wrong when watching these!